Tuesday, September 3, 2013
A state court has ruled that the Grandview, WA school district violated federal law when it failed to provide an appropriate education for a deaf student. Last Friday, Yakima County Superior Court Judge Robert Lawrence-Berrey ordered the school district to pay for four years of private education for the student, José Garcia. The Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA) requires schools develop an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) for students with special needs, but that appears to have happened only intermittently for Garcia. Garcia was educated in the Grandview, WA district from pre-school to 12th grade. Garcia is profoundly deaf but the school district failed to assign him an interpreter or an amplification system, so he missed much of what was going on in class. The district decided not to provide a sign language interpreter because of concerns that it would make Garcia self-conscious. When later teachers realized Garcia had a severe hearing impairment, he was cycled between general education, "resource rooms," and self-contained special education classes. The IDEA also requires that students' parents have meaningful access to information about their children's education. The state superior court found that the district failed to meet IDEA's requirements by conducting Garcia's IEP meetings in English, which left his mother, who cannot speak or read English, with little understanding about her son’s education. His mother, Maria Sanchez, thought that her son was doing well because he brought home A’s and B’s on his report cards. She did not realize that he was attaining those grades in special education classes. When Garcia reached the 12th grade at Grandview High School, he could not graduate because he was barely literate and his math skills were at a third grade level.
With supports, a federal court concluded in 2011, Garcia could function at his age level. Now that he is 20 years old, Garcia will get that opportunity, as the Grandview district must provide him with four years of private education at an estimated cost of nearly $1 million. The 2011 federal court decision is Sanchez, et al. v. Grandview School District No. 200, No. CV-10-3118-EFS, 2011 WL 10649281 (E.D. Wash. February 28, 2011) (granting plaintiffs’ motion for injunctive relief).